Planting your dead pet: Glowing reviews for pet composting start-up

SEATTLE -- The Pacific Northwest has always led the way in composting.

But picture this:

You and your family find a nice Japanese Maple. You take the small tree home, dig a hole and grab some composting potting soil from your garage. You gather your family to help pack the soil around the tree. You admire your work; the red leaves, grey bark, and delicate soil that surrounds the tree.

Because the soil is made up of your dead dog.

Sound morbid? Or does it sound like the perfect way to remember a deceased pet?

Rooted Pets hopes it's the latter. And they say more than 100 families who have tried the start-up deceased pet composting company agree. Including Maggie Finch, whose family recently lost their dog Ruby and decided to turn her dead body into compost.

"The idea of Ruby being able to become a tree and kind of have a forever life was a magical thing," Finch told Q13 News.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Rooted Pets and Planet is the brainchild of Paul Tschetter and his business partners. He said the idea first came to him about three years ago, when talk of composting dead humans was in the news.

Many complicated regulations seemed to surround composting humans, but what about pets?

"We thought the market would be more open for accepting this for pets," Tshetter said.

For the last 18 months, Rooted Pets has been up and running. "Pods" that can hold 15-20 dead animals each are the main composting center for pets. The pods can fit animals that weigh less than 50 pounds, and take 6-8 weeks to fully compost remains.

Originally, Tschetter says he thought pet owners would be concerned about the 6-8 week waiting time. But Rooted Pets has found people use the time to properly grieve.

"It allows people some time to mourn," Tschetter said.

The pet is returned as either straight soil or soil with a potted plant, Tschetter says. Around 100 people have used the service so far.

Amy Volk the Manager of Cascade West Veterinarian Hospital in Centralia, says clients are open to the alternative of having their pets returned as soil. Most often, pets are cremated after they die. But the soil provides an eco-friendly solution.

"Having soil is just a positive way to have new memories," Tschetter said.

Volk says Cascade West keeps a small plant with Rooted soil in the waiting room. Most visitors ask about the plant, and get excited when whey tells them what it is.

"Families are interested," Volk said.

Finch agreed the thought of bringing Ruby back helped her grieving family think past the death.

"You really do feel like there is a new beginning for your pet," Finch said.

For more information on Rooted Pets, visit their website.